Wednesday 28 September 2016

Gosden eyes Arc as Jack trumps Derby field

The Epsom form was franked by raider's effortless success at Curragh

Chris Cook

Published 28/06/2015 | 02:30

Jack Hobbs and William Buick on their way to winning the 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
Jack Hobbs and William Buick on their way to winning the 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

Jack Hobbs was as impressive a winner of the Dubai Free Irish Derby as the betting suggested he would be.

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The 10/11 favourite came home five lengths clear of Storm The Stars, with Giovanni Canaletto a similar distance back in third as John Gosden becomes the first trainer to win the English and Irish Derbys in the same year with different horses.

"It's a little bit spoiling, isn't it?" said Gosden, who also won the French Oaks recently. The Newmarket man had had a couple of runners in this race before but had never before made it here to witness the premier Irish Classic.

After celebrating this, Gosden's thoughts must turn quickly to next Saturday's big race, the Eclipse at Sandown, in which his Epsom Derby winner, Golden Horn, will be a strong favourite. His rivals will include the French Derby winner, New Bay, but the result here must give hope that the Epsom form is superior to what took place at Chantilly.

The first three horses at The Curragh had finished second, third and fourth behind Golden Horn in the English equivalent. Meanwhile, Highland Reel, runner-up to New Bay in France, was well held in fifth on this occasion, unable to land a blow.

"He did it in good style," Gosden said of Jack Hobbs. "He got a nice split at the head of the straight and then William [Buick] waited with him, which is right, you don't want to start pushing too soon, this track takes some getting. But I loved the way he finished his race out. There's nothing wrong with the form, a truly-run race."

Jack Hobbs becomes the first British-trained winner of the Irish Derby for 21 years, or 22 if you are among those who feel that the 1994 winner, Balanchine, should be regarded as a success for Dubai. The colt will now be given a break until the Prix Niel in September, a prep race for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. "He's big, rangy, quite light-framed and he just needs to fill out," Gosden said.

Storm The Stars made the running and stayed on gamely to be clear best of the rest. He immediately received a quote of 4/1 for the final English Classic of the year, the St Leger at Doncaster in the autumn.

Earlier, Gordon Lord Byron, which hacked up in Haydock's Sprint Cup in 2013, has that September race on his agenda once more after returning to winning ways in a Listed race here. He was only third-favourite in this field of six after finishing in midfield obscurity in the Diamond Jubilee last weekend but his trainer, Tom Hogan, had a ready explanation for that performance.

"He had a lung infection and by the time his treatment was over, I had 19 days to get him ready for Ascot and I sent him there too fresh," Hogan said. "He charged the gate and he ran with the choke out for three furlongs, then he hit a flat spot and he stayed on again at the end. It was a brilliant run, considering what happened."

Painted Cliffs caused a minor upset to extend Aidan O'Brien's tremendous record in the GAIN Railway Stakes.

The master of Ballydoyle had saddled 11 previous winners of the prestigious juvenile prize, with the likes of Rock Of Gibraltar (2001) and George Washington (2005) among those on the roll of honour.

Painted Cliffs was available at 7/1 to add his name to the esteemed list, having put a disappointing Curragh debut behind him with victory at Leopardstown just nine days ago in first-time blinkers, and did so in some style in the hands of Ryan Moore.

O'Brien said: "We liked him before he ever ran but he disappointed the first day and Joseph (O'Brien) said he was very idle and babyish. We put the blinkers on him at Leopardstown to help him concentrate and I wasn't sure if it was just a bad race or that the blinkers worked.

"Ryan said he's a very nice horse. He likes him. Maybe we could leave the blinkers off him in future."

Richard Hughes, meanwhile, is available at 5/1 to retain his title as British champion jockey after revealing that he may start his training career as soon as September. Hughes has been champion for the last three years and as recently as Wednesday he was odds-on to make it four but the betting market reacted swiftly to the news that his focus is already switching to the next phase of his career.

"I absolutely cannot wait to train," the 42-year-old Hughes said in his Racing Post column. "My ambition is to saddle my first runners in September or October."

Hughes said his mind is "still on the job of being a jockey" but added: "If I can be champion again, that would be great but if the riding looks like hurting the training, I will have to knock the title on the head."

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